The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) adopted its opinion on the EU strategy for the Alpine Region at its plenary session on 8 October 2015.
The EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) concerns an area lying across five EU Member States (Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Slovenia) and two non-EU countries (Liechtenstein and Switzerland). This is an area of higher economic development, environmental sustainability and social cohesion than the EU average, but it also faces major common challenges, such as an aging population, climate change, energy issues and the disadvantages of its geographical position.
"In the Alpine region it is essential to find the right balance between environmental protection and economic development", says Stefano Palmieri. "Cooperation between Member States is not enough; the involvement of the people living in the Alpine region is also required." Conservation of natural and cultural capital and its rational use, including through the provision of an affordable and high-quality energy supply, need to go hand in hand, taking people's concerns and proposals into account so as to foster ownership of the EUSALP strategy.
In its opinion, the EESC mainly regrets the lack of a social dimension, which needs to be on the same footing as the environmental and economic aspects. It also calls for more effective innovation strategies which nurture competitiveness and generate jobs. Innovative ideas are also needed to attract new investment and optimize the varied forms of tourism in the area, while agriculture and forestry need to be strengthened.
"The EUSALP can be a useful tool for the sustainable economic development of the Alpine region. However, it requires a social component which addresses the needs of the people - a process which in turn will promote new ideas and develop concepts which will meet with broad public acceptance", says Stefano Palmieri.
For more information, please contact:
Silvia Aumair, EESC Press Unit
E-mail: presseesc [dot] europa [dot] eu
Tel: + 32 2 546 8141 / +32 475 75 32 02